I think one of the main lessons of the story of Yonah that’s read on Yom Kippur is that even the greatest men, with the greatest intentions, can’t understand God’s master plan because of their own biases. (You know, the Navi Yonah didn’t want to prophesy in Nineveh and give them a chance to repent because they were Israel’s enemies, but was forced to and was then taught a lesson by God to help him understand.)
Anyhow, I think the same thing is true with our tefillos. Just because the people who wrote the prayers saw Yom Kippur a certain way, doesn’t mean that that’s how it should be for us. The piyutim especially, begging God to spare us for one more year, save us from our enemies, calling up merits and mercy and promises and tears in exchange for salvation.
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